Do We Have the Will?

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It does not seem remotely possible that our times might get even crazier, but here we go. Derecho winds have flattened crops and destroyed or damaged homes in Iowa. Lightning fires are raging across northern California. Now two storms will be entering the Gulf of Mexico to wreak some form of havoc. Two big storms at once are almost as unprecedented as Covid-19 and both our resources and our strength have already been stretched to the limit. Right now we have little that we might do other than to prepare for the worst and take a big sigh to hope for the best. 

As strange as it may sound I’ve been thinking about trees during all of this. Those magnificent redwoods in northern California have withstood centuries of assaults from nature and humans and yet somehow they still stand. Sadly they have been attacked by insects of late that have made them more vulnerable much like Covid-19 has done to humans. As the fires rage in redwood forests some of them are burning to the ground even as there is a fight to quench the flames and save as much as possible. Trees that were once thought invulnerable are succumbing the natures demands.

Here along the Gulf Coast it has long been known that the hardiest kind of trees in the event of a tropical storm or a hurricane are palm trees. With their feathered fronds the winds blow through them and around them. They flexibly bend and adapt to the conditions. Not even hurricane Katrina took down the palms that line the avenues in New Orleans. They were adaptable and so they survived.

I suppose that we humans sometimes attempt to exude a kind of false strength even as we are being eaten away by invisible cares and woes. Like those redwoods we were already in emotional trouble even before 2020. The events of this year have exposed our wounds and the fires raging around us are threatening to consume us. Instead we need to be like those palm trees swaying in unison with the winds that buffet us. We have to let go of our need to be totally in control. We have to be willing to adapt to whatever comes our way and change as needed. 

So far we have not handled the virus very well. It feels as though half of us are treating it seriously and the other half is convinced that all of our efforts are much ado about nothing. The numbers climb in spite of the naysayers and many medical experts now believe that we have created a kind of conundrum. Those who have conscientiously worn masks, socially distanced and refrained from a need to be one hundred percent normal have actually helped to keep the situation from being even worse than it now is. Those who still insist that it is all a hoax on the other hand keep the virus moving from one human to another so that we have never gained control. The medical community predicts that if we continue with this kind of behavior there may be 300,000 deaths by Christmas Day. For those who may think that their data analysis is fear mongering these same people accurately predicted at least 170,000 deaths by August when we were still hunkering down in April thinking that by the summer it would all be a distant memory. 

Storms and fires and destructive winds are a routine part of life and yet we have also been warned that their devastating forces will grow stronger and more frequent if we do not attempt to mend our ways with regard to how we mistreat the environment. At some point the landscape of the world may be drastically altered by our continued insistence on ignoring the data from experts who understand the negative effect we are having on the planet. Whether we agree to adapt to new ways now or wait until our selfishness has impacted us with untold damage it is rather certain that we can no longer insist on the habits that are slowly killing the wonderful world of nature around us. Like the virus that stalks us, so too does the warming of our planet lead to suffering and death.

We humans are rather brilliant, or at least we have brilliant souls among us. For the entirety of history there have been geniuses who explained how things work, creating methods for improving life. This is not the first time that some have chosen to ignore the very people who understand science best. Galileo was persecuted for speaking the truth about the heavens. There are still people who actually believe that the world is flat. For some it is difficult to accept ideas that are frightening or difficult. They prefer not to upset routines and long held beliefs. They are suspicious of anyone who expresses contrary theories that would change the course of how they live. 

Nature is speaking to us, not so gently. She is shouting that we must adapt and change our ways or suffer the consequences. She cares nothing about our freedoms. She is demanding that we hear her. We humans are still capable of healing her and healing ourselves as well. We have the skills. We have the people who know what to do. The question is whether or not we have the will.